Transgender woman able to breastfeed in possible first: report

A new study published in Transgender Health recorded the first instance of a transgender woman successfully breastfeeding.

A transgender woman has become the first recorded to successfully breastfeed her baby, The Washington Post reported, citing a study published last month in Transgender Health.

The 30-year-old said she decided to breastfeed her then-unborn baby. Her partner was pregnant with the baby, but didn’t plan on breastfeeding, The Post reported.

According to the study, the woman underwent a three-and-half month treatment that included a drug to stimulate lactation and hormone therapy to suppress testosterone. The patient had not yet undergone gender reassignment surgery, the report said.

The patient was given additional supplements to induce lactation and told to use a breast pump, the study said. After a month of treatment, the patient was reportedly producing “droplets” of milk. After three months, the patient was reportedly producing 8 ounces of milk a day.

According to the study, the patient breastfed the baby for the first six weeks after birth during which the “child’s growth, feeding and bowel habits were developmentally appropriate.” Later on, the study said, the patient had to supplement the breastfeeding with formula since she wasn’t producing enough milk.

While the treatment has been hailed as a breakthrough in some circles, Madeline Deutsch, a doctor and also a transgender woman with a child, said contemporary research is inadequate. She said she empathizes with transgender parents, but trying to induce lactation is “not something I would do.”

Deutsch said the issue needs to be explored more since “there are unknowns about the nutritional picture of the milk.”

Japanese woman sues government over forced sterilisation

A set of surgical instruments

A Japanese woman who was forcibly sterilised in the 1970s at the age of 15 is suing the government in the first case of its kind.

The unnamed woman is one of 25,000 people who underwent the procedure under a now-defunct eugenics law.

The victims were sterilised because they were found to be mentally ill or have conditions such as leprosy.

About 16,500 of them were allegedly operated on without consent. Some were as young as nine at the time.

The woman, who is now in her 60s, took legal action after learning she had been sterilised in 1972 after a diagnosis of “hereditary feeble-mindedness”.

She had developed mental problems after having surgery for a cleft palate as a baby, Japanese media report.

Due to side-effects from the sterilisation, she later had to have her ovaries removed.

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The woman is said to be seeking 11m yen ($101,000; £71,000) in damages, citing the violation of her human rights.

“We’ve had agonising days… we stood up to make this society brighter,” her sister told a press conference.

Japanese Health Minister Katsunobu Kato has refused to comment on the case, saying he does not know the details.

An official from the health ministry told AFP news agency that the government would meet individually with victims of forced sterilisation who needed support, but “has no plans to offer blanket measures” to all of them.

The eugenics law under which the operations happened was in place from 1948 to 1996.

Handheld device sequences human genome

The MinION DNA sequencer

Scientists have used a device that fits in the palm of the hand to sequence the human genome.

They say the feat, detailed in the journal Nature Biotechnology, opens up exciting possibilities for using genetics in routine medicine.

It is a far cry from the effort to sequence the first human genome which started in 1990.

The Human Genome Project took 13 years, laboratories around the world and hundreds of millions of dollars.

Since then there has been a revolution in cracking the code of life.

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Prof Nicholas Loman, one of the researchers and from the University of Birmingham, UK, told the BBC: “We’ve gone from a situation where you can only do genome sequencing for a huge amount of money in well equipped labs to one where we can have genome sequencing literally in your pocket just like a mobile phone.

“That gives us a really exciting opportunity to start having genome sequencing as a routine tool, perhaps something people can do in their own home.”

Sequencing technology has the potential to change the way we do medicine.

Analysing the mutated DNA of cancers could be used to pick the best treatment. Or inspecting the genetic code of bacteria could spot antibiotic resistance early.

Prof Loman used the handheld device to track the spread of Ebola during the outbreak in West Africa.


Many companies are racing to sequence DNA faster and cheaper.

The handheld device used in the study was developed by the company Oxford Nanopore.

The technology works by passing long strands of DNA through a tiny hole (the eponymous nanopore).

The building blocks of DNA are four bases known by their letters A, C, G and T. As each passes through the pore it creates a unique electrical signal that allows researchers to determine the DNA sequence.

The research group say the approach was around 99.5% accurate, but also allowed them to look at parts of human DNA that had been poorly studied.

The commonly used “short read” method of sequencing DNA involved breaking it up into short fragments, sequencing those and piecing it all back together like a jigsaw.

But the challenge is that some fragments of the genetic code look incredibly similar, so it becomes a near impossible puzzle made of identical pieces.

Prof Matthew Loose, from the University of Nottingham, UK, said the nanopore tech analysed longer strands of DNA so “we can read parts of the genome not seen before”.

This includes the tips of chromosomes – called telomeres.

Prof Loose told the BBC: “Telomere length can be quite important in cancer and ageing, it’s difficult in short reads because of the repeats, but we can see and start to map those things.”

But while the cost of the sequencing is tumbling, there remains a big barrier – being able to rapidly read the genetic code is not the same as understanding what it says.

Dr Sobia Raza, the head of science at the PHG Foundation genomics think tank, told the BBC: “Our ability to sequence whole genomes quickly and cheaply continues to improve.

“But short-term patient benefits also depend on how well and how fast we can analyse and make sense of the genomic data, and that is still quite a challenge.”

First monkey clones created in Chinese laboratory

Two monkeys have been cloned using the technique that produced Dolly the sheep.

Identical long-tailed macaques Zhong Zhong and Hua Hua were born several weeks ago at a laboratory in China.

Scientists say populations of monkeys that are genetically identical will be useful for research into human diseases.

But critics say the work raises ethical concerns by bringing the world closer to human cloning.

Qiang Sun of the Chinese Academy of Sciences Institute of Neuroscience said the cloned monkeys will be useful as a model for studying diseases with a genetic basis, including some cancers, metabolic and immune disorders.

“There are a lot of questions about primate biology that can be studied by having this additional model,” he said.

Zhong Zhong, one of the first two monkeys created by somatic cell nuclear transfer

Zhong Zhong was born eight weeks ago and Hua Hua six weeks ago. They are named after the Mandarin term for the Chinese nation and people.

The researchers say the monkeys are being bottle fed and are currently growing normally. They expect more macaque clones to be born over the coming months.

‘Not a stepping stone’

Prof Robin Lovell-Badge of The Francis Crick Institute, London, said the technique used to clone Zhong Zhong and Hua Hua remains “a very inefficient and hazardous procedure”.

“The work in this paper is not a stepping-stone to establishing methods for obtaining live born human clones,” he said.

WATCH: Dolly – the world’s most famous sheep

Prof Darren Griffin of the University of Kent said the approach may be useful in understanding human diseases, but raised ethical concerns.

“Careful consideration now needs to be given to the ethical framework under which such experiments can, and should, operate,” he said.

Dolly made history 20 years ago after being cloned at the Roslin Institute in Edinburgh. It was the first time scientists had been able to clone a mammal from an adult cell, taken from the udder.

Dolly the sheep

Since then many other mammals have been cloned using the same somatic cell nuclear transfer technique (SCNT), including cattle, pigs, dogs, cats, mice and rats.

This involves transferring DNA from the nucleus of a cell to a donated egg cell, which has had its own DNA removed. This is then prompted to develop into an embryo and implanted in a surrogate animal.

Zhong Zhong and Hua Hua are the first non-human primates cloned through this technique.

In 1999, a rhesus monkey embryo was split in two in order to create two identical twins. One of the baby monkeys born through that technique – called Tetra – has the title of the world’s first cloned monkey, but it did not involve the complex process of DNA transfer.

‘Much failure’

In the study, published in the journal Cell, scientists used DNA from foetal cells.

After the DNA was transferred to donated eggs, genetic reprogramming was used to alter genes that would otherwise have stopped the embryo developing.

Hua Hua, one of the first monkey clones made by somatic cell nuclear transfer

Zhong Zhong and Hua Hua were the result of 79 attempts. Two other monkeys were initially cloned from a different type of cell, but failed to survive.

Dr Sun said: “We tried several different methods, but only one worked. There was much failure before we found a way to successfully clone a monkey.”

The scientists say they followed strict international guidelines for animal research, set by the US National Institutes of Health.

Co-researcher Dr Muming Poo, also of the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Shanghai, said: “We are very aware that future research using non-human primates anywhere in the world depends on scientists following very strict ethical standards.”

US flu outbreak is worst since 2009 swine pandemic

An emergency room nurse (R) treats a hospital patient for flu this month in Escondido, California

More Americans are seeking medical care for flu than at any time since the “swine” pandemic of nearly a decade ago, say US health officials.

Thirty-seven children have died and nearly 12,000 patients have been admitted to hospital nationwide.

The outbreak could surpass 2014-15 when 34 million Americans fell ill, says the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

In that season, 710,000 people were admitted to hospital and 56,000 died.

The director of the CDC, Dr Daniel Jernigan, said thousands of people were going to doctor’s offices and emergency rooms to seek treatment for flu-like symptoms.

“This is the highest level of activity recorded since the 2009 pandemic,” he said.

All 50 states excluding Hawaii are reporting “widespread” flu activity.

A 12-year-old boy in Florida, described by his family as a healthy child, became one of the latest to die from the virus.

Dylan Winnick died on Tuesday a day after developing a fever, according to stunned family members.

In 2014-15 the number of child deaths from flu reached 148.

Schools in at least 12 states have closed this year because of the deadly virus.

Also being mourned is Karlie Illg Slaven, 37, who died on Monday in Indiana from a flu-related illness after taking care of her two sick children.

Her distraught father is advising the public to get a flu shot, saying his daughter was the only household member not to have been vaccinated for the virus.

Mother-of-two Tandy Harmon died last week in Oregon after being diagnosed only two days earlier.

Dr Jernigan said baby-boomers – those in the 50 to 64 age bracket – are currently being hit particularly hard.

The 2009 swine flu pandemic was exceptionally widespread because it was a new virus.

However, the H3N2 virus that has swept the nation this year is the most deadly of the so-called “seasonal” strains.

The strain, also known as the “Aussie flu”, has been around for 50 years and was first called the “Hong Kong flu” in 1968.

H3N2 also wreaked havoc during the 1997-98 and 2003-04 seasons, and is known to be particularly harmful for young children and the elderly.

Most boomers infected with liver-damaging hepatitis C virus do not know it


Few Baby Boomers have been tested for the liver-damaging hepatitis C virus, despite recommendations that all members of that generation have the blood test at least once, new research suggests.

The share of boomers who had the test barely budged in the two years after health authorities first recommended it for everyone born between 1945 and 1965, according to a report published Wednesday in American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

Just 13.8% had been tested by 2015, up from 12.3% in 2013, when testing was recommended by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF), said the report, based on a nationwide survey of 24,000 people.

“That is not a big increase,” and means most infected boomers remained unaware they carried a potentially fatal but curable virus, said report co-author Stacey Fedewa, an American Cancer Society researcher.

Just 10.5 million out of 76.2 million boomers had the test by 2015, the survey found. It is possible testing has increased somewhat since then, Fedewa said.

For reasons that are not fully understood, boomers make up three quarters of the estimated 3 million or so Americans chronically infected with the virus, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Left to smolder for decades, the virus can cause liver cirrhosis and liver cancer and is the leading reason for liver transplants; it eventually kills up to 5% of carriers, CDC says.

Boomers grew up and became young adults before the virus was identified in 1989. So it is likely many were infected through medical procedures and transfusions before improved infection control techniques and blood screening nearly eliminated those risks, CDC says. But shared drug needles, the major cause of transmission today, also played a role back then, CDC says. Sexual transmission, which is less common, likely played a smaller role, according to CDC.

“Some boomers engaged in high risk activities in the past that they no longer engage in,” but their risk remains, Fedewa said.

The reason the task force, CDC and other medical groups now recommend widespread testing is that treatment has improved dramatically over the past few years, said Michael Saag, a professor of medicine at the University of Alabama at Birmingham and a spokesperson for the Infectious Diseases Society of America.

“Someone who has hepatitis C and gets 12 weeks of treatment, typically one pill a day, has a 95% to 98% cure rate,” he said. Older regimens took much longer, had more side effects and had a 40% success rate, he said.

But the costs of the new drugs may be dampening enthusiasm among doctors and patients for testing and treatment. Current regimens have sticker prices of about $90,000, though those prices usually are negotiated down by drug companies and insurers, Saag said.

Low-income AIDS patients fear coverage gains could slip away


When Tami Haught was diagnosed with HIV, she was one day shy of her 25th birthday. The diagnosis did not come as a shock since doctors had determined her fiancé was dying of AIDS several weeks earlier.

In the two decades since, Haught, 48, has turned to expensive prescription drugs to keep the deadly infection in check. In 2005, she began receiving help purchasing her medications through the AIDS Drug Assistance Program (ADAP), a federally funded network of programs in each state that assist low-income HIV and AIDS patients. Since the Affordable Care Act was implemented, ADAP instead has helped her buy an insurance policy to cover a wide assortment of her health care needs.

Nationally, more than 139,000 clients were served by ADAPs in June 2015, according to the latest report from the National Alliance of State and Territorial AIDS Directors (NASTAD), a coalition of state officials responsible for administering HIV and hepatitis programs. About half of those clients were getting help purchasing insurance through the federal health law’s marketplaces or elsewhere, a switch from the program’s historical role of paying primarily for expensive prescriptions.

Advocates fear Republican plans to overhaul the health law could cause such upheaval in the individual insurance market that the program could not afford to continue the premium assistance and would be forced to turn primarily back to subsidizing medication.

“We are at a pivotal point in HIV where people are talking about the end of the epidemic,” said Ann Lefert, senior director of the prevention and care program and policy at NASTAD. “It’s hard to imagine that if the health care coverage changes dramatically, it would be hard to get there in the same speed.”

According to the AIDS directors’ report, in June 2015, about 72,000 got help paying for their insurance, including nearly 4,000 who also received assistance to purchase medication. That’s more than twice as many as got insurance help in 2010, when the health law was passed.

To qualify for ADAP assistance, prospective clients must meet standards determined by the state. Individuals must prove their residency and recertify every six months. NASTAD reported more than 70 percent of clients served by ADAP in June 2015 reached viral load suppression, or undetectable levels of HIV in the blood. By comparison, only 3 out of 10 people living with HIV in the U.S. reached suppression in 2011, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported.

ADAP is required to choose the most cost-effective way to assist clients. Currently, that option often is financial assistance for purchasing an insurance plan that covers broad health expenses. But before the ACA, when insurance companies could legally exclude customers with preexisting conditions or charge them very high premiums, buying insurance was difficult for HIV patients.

Consequently, the program focused primarily on helping patients buy the pricey drugs they needed. It struggled to meet that demand, however, often using waiting lists to determine which low-income clients could be helped. At its peak, 9,278 individuals waited to access ADAP services, according to NASTAD. The program eventually eliminated the waiting list in 2013.

For many of those low-income patients, it was the only help available, given they weren’t eligible in many states for Medicaid, which generally limited eligibility to children, very-low income families and people with debilitating conditions.

“Most people had to be disabled in order to get access to Medicaid services, even though the treatments that became available in the 1990s prevented you from being disabled,” said Jeffrey Levi, a health management and policy professor at George Washington University in Washington, D.C.

But the ACA’s provisions — principally, the Medicaid expansion undertaken by 31 states and the District of Columbia; subsidies for low-income people buying plans on the insurance marketplace; and consumer insurance protections —enabled ADAP to spend less on purchasing drugs and use its funds more efficiently to help clients buy coverage. They could use the assistance to pay the portion of premiums not covered by federal tax subsidies and expenses not picked up by their plans, such as deductibles and copayments.

The NASTAD report also found that ADAP paid an average of $1,678 per client for medications in June 2015. In contrast, the program contributed an average $444 to health plans for clients. Some insured clients, however, also received help paying for medication.

While Lefert said she doesn’t anticipate waiting lists returning to ADAP if the health law is partially repealed, other experts worry about how far existing funds can be stretched.

“Now you’re going to have a bunch of people rushing back to the [ADAP] pool with not enough dollars to cover them all,” said Matthew Rose, policy and advocacy manager for the National Minority AIDS Council.

Changes to the health law could interrupt treatment and lead to gaps in care, said Erin Loubier, senior director for health and legal integration and payment innovation at the Whitman-Walker Health clinic in Washington, D.C. And without protections from discrimination based on preexisting conditions, she said, people could shirk screening for fear of losing their jobs or health insurance.

Haught, of Nashua, Iowa, now works as a training coordinator for the SERO Project, an advocacy group fighting against HIV criminalization laws around the nation. Haught said she’s surprised that she’s lived 23 years past her diagnosis, which allowed her to see her son graduate and spend time with her grandson, Chase. Taking her medication is critical.

How are the cold and flu different?

Knowing the difference between the common cold and the flu can be crucial to your well-being — and that of your loved ones — this winter.

On Jan. 19, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) revealed that during the 2017 to 2018 flu season, there were 30 child deaths.

There have also been reports of adults who had the flu and died from complications.

Read on for a look at the two illnesses and how you can tell them apart.

Getting down to basics

“Because these two types of illnesses have similar symptoms, it can be difficult to tell the difference between them based on symptoms alone,” the CDC explains online. “In general, the flu is worse than the common cold, and symptoms are more common and intense.”

The agency notes that special testing may be performed early on to determine which illness you may have.

There’s also another point: The common cold is mainly caused by rhinoviruses, the Mayo Clinic says. The influenza virus, however, is responsible for causing the flu.


Common cold symptoms

Muscle aches, fevers, chills: the flu can be an unpleasant experience during chilly weather.  Here's what you need to know about seasonal influenza and how to prevent it.

Coughing, a runny nose, congestion and a sore throat are just some of the things patients with the common cold may experience, according to the Mayo Clinic. Others include sneezing and a minor headache or body aches.

“It’s usually harmless, although it might not feel that way,” the Mayo Clinic says of the common cold.

It notes that people usually recuperate within seven to 10 days, but recommends looking for treatment for certain health conditions, like when adults have a fever higher than 101.3 degrees Fahrenheit.


Flu symptoms

For one type of the virus, called Influenza A, the “classic” presentation of symptoms is a sudden onset, Dr. Neil Fishman, an infectious disease specialist and associate professor of medicine at the Hospital for the University of Pennsylvania, told Fox News.

People may first have a headache “more in the front of your head or behind your eyes,” with other symptoms being a fever of at least 103 degrees, chills, sweats and body aches.

Influenza B often is less severe and resembles the common cold, but there can be more serious cases, he noted.

People worried about the flu or who think they may have it should consult their physicians.

Fighting the opioid epidemic will require more court battles

Rate falls for second straight year; correspondent Ellison Barber looks at the numbers

New York City’s decision to file a lawsuit this week against eight big pharmaceutical corporations and distributors that ignited the nation’s raging opioid epidemic cannot bring back the hundreds of thousands of loved ones who have perished during this crisis.

But for families like my own that have suffered, it raises some hope that Big Pharma companies may yet be held responsible for their actions.

Unfortunately, accountability has been quite elusive since pill makers began flooding the market with prescription painkillers more than two decades ago.

As far back as 2001, Connecticut’s then-Attorney General (and now U.S. Senator) Richard Blumenthal sounded the warning cry about Oxycontin abuse, publicly urging manufacturer Purdue Pharma to take action to warn about the potential for addiction connected to the drug, which it aggressively marketed as “non-addictive.”

Three years later West Virginia became the first state to sue Purdue in a case that never went to trial and resulted in a $10 million settlement.

In 2007, Purdue finally pleaded guilty to misleading doctors and the public about Oxycontin’s potential for addiction and abuse, paying $600 million in fines and payments to settle the Justice Department case against the company.

By this time addictive pain pills, often snagged from unused bottles in family medicine cabinets, were as readily available as candy in the halls of the high school where my 16-year-old son Tommy, like many teens, was wrestling with his identity.

By 2010, pharmacies in Florida, where we were living, were selling more than 650 million oxycodone pills per year, with 93 of the top opioid-dispensing doctors in the U.S. operating in the state. (Oxycodone is the active ingredient in Oxycontin and is also an ingredient of other pain pills).

Then completely unaware of the word “opioid” or the deadly dagger Tommy was flirting with, my wife and I proceeded through our normal routine one Friday until our son didn’t come home after school.

When Tommy’s cellphone went straight to voicemail, we began a frantic and agonizing four-day search for him. We finally found him in a decrepit, abandoned building on the brink of overdose death. His drug of choice? Oxycontin.

Some 13 overdoses and nine years later, we’ve learned far more about the opioid crisis that we ever could have fathomed. About how easy it is to become addicted even after short-term use. How opioids rewire a person’s brain chemistry in ways that make overcoming the drug nearly impossible.

We also learned about how the stigma carried by the word “heroin” kept this growing problem in the shadows for so long, causing families to suffer in silence for fear of what their neighbors might think, and causing many Americans to mistakenly brush off opioid addiction as a skid row problem and not something that would affect them.

As our son continued to struggle through the vicious cycle of relapse, detox, recovery and repeat, we began to understand the scope of the problem. We count ourselves among the lucky ones, because Tommy has survived and is now doing well.

But we have no illusions that this will ever be over, because as any person who has overcome addiction can attest, it is a lifelong “one day at a time” challenge.

Today’s opioid epidemic can reach any family. It is an equal opportunity destroyer that strikes rural, suburban and urban communities, poor, middle-class and wealthy families – with no regard for race, age or gender.

Last year alone the opioid epidemic claimed more American lives than we lost during the Vietnam War. Nearly 100 people die every single day from either heroin or prescription pill overdose. And that’s just the statistics that are reported. The real toll is certainly higher.

Meanwhile, pharmaceutical companies continue to profit from this national tragedy. Since its record settlement in 2007, Purdue has continued to rake in billions of dollars from the sale of its homerun drug Oxycontin, vaulting the company’s family owners onto the Forbes Wealthiest Families in America list.

For those of us who are battle weary from the front lines of the crisis, it is small solace that some prominent Big Pharma actors might once again be found liable.

New York City joins a growing list of cities, counties and states that are suing to bring drug companies to justice in a move reminiscent of Big Tobacco lawsuits years ago. But the politics of greed that have allowed this infection to fester for so many years already make us skeptical that this time will be different.

Since Purdue’s huge settlement, Big Pharma has fought back in a big way, significantly increasing their lobbying efforts at the federal and state levels. According to The Associated Press and the Center for Public Integrity, Purdue, other pain pill producers, and their related nonprofit associations spent nearly $900 million on lobbying and political contributions between 2006 and 20015.

The amount spent by the industry’s influence machine is eight times more than the powerful gun lobby spent during the same time period. If anyone wonders how the opioid train rolled down the tracks for so long while politicians or regulatory officials looked the other way, the answers can be found in political spending records.

Similar to the speeches and press conferences that promise to end the opioid crisis, the pledges to make “Big Pharma pay for what they’ve done” will do little to change realities on the ground, at least for years to come. Even if settlements or further restrictions are achieved, it will be too little and too late for most American families coping with opioid addiction.

At least awareness has been heightened by the spate of new lawsuits. Anything we can do to further drag the problem out of the shadows and into the light is an important first step toward education and prevention. It’s hard to battle something that so many don’t even understand.

Sadly, the talk continues to far outpace the walk on the issue of opioid addiction. Most of our public leaders and government officials simply continue to scratch their heads about what to do next.

Until we can go move beyond the headline-grabbing promises to fight this epidemic and pursue the legitimate actions and resources needed to make a dent in it, don’t expect much to change.

Philadelphia aims to be first US city to host safe injection sites

Discarded syringes are seen in an open-air heroin market that has thrived for decades outside the heart of Philadelphia, July 31, 2017.

Philadelphia wants to become the first U.S. city to permit medically supervised drug injection sites as a way to combat the opioid epidemic, officials said Tuesday.

The city is seeking outside operators to establish at least one such site in the city, in a move met with both support and criticism.

Philadelphia has the highest opioid death rate of any large U.S. city. That mortality rate has been increasing, as more than 1,200 people fatally overdosed in Philadelphia in 2017 — one-third more than in 2016.

President Donald Trump declared the U.S. opioid crisis a public health emergency nearly three months ago.

In safe injection sites, people can shoot up under supervision of a doctor or nurse who can administer an overdose antidote if necessary.

The Philadelphia Inquirer called the city’s plan the “most radical step yet” against the opioid crisis.

Dr. Thomas Farley, public health commissioner, told the Inquirer that “we are facing an epidemic of historic proportions.” He said the sites could be “a life-saving strategy and a pathway to treatment.”

“No one here condones or supports illegal drug use in any way,” Farley said. “We want people saddled with drug addiction to get help.”

No U.S. city has established such a site, though Seattle has set aside $1.3 million to create a safe injection site there. Injection sites are operating in Canada and Europe.

Philadelphia officials visited Seattle and safe injection sites in Vancouver, where Farley said they have reduced overdose deaths, the spread of diseases like HIV and hepatitis C, and created safer neighborhoods that are free of used-needle litter.

The city officials concluded that a single site in the city would save 25 to 75 lives a year and millions of dollars in hospital costs and public funds, at the same reduce public injection of drugs, the Inquirer reported.

Rate falls for second straight year; correspondent Ellison Barber looks at the numbers

Councilwoman Helen Gym said the decision was “bold, brave, and lifesaving.”

Mayor Jim Kenney wasn’t at the news conference, but Farley said the Democrat supports the recommendation.

In contrast, critics have argued the sites may undermine prevention and treatment and cause safety concerns.

Pennsylvania House Speaker Mike Turzai, who is running for the Republican nomination to challenge Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf, called Philadelphia’s safe injection plan misguided and a violation of federal law.

It’s unclear how the federal government would respond if Philadelphia gets a safe-injection site. The U.S. Department of Justice declined to comment on the plan.

Meanwhile, the city hopes to hear from operators interested in setting up the injection sites, as locations are to be determined, the Inquirer reported.